To tell your story, especially a story that is linked to shame, is never easy to tell. It was only a few years ago that I was finally able to share my story with other women. By doing this, I learned that I wasn’t alone and there are so many others that feel shame and misunderstood when it comes to women’s health.
So, here is my story or my journey to learning my medical condition, finding help, learning my body, and finally sharing my knowledge with other women.
When I hit puberty, I was at the young age of 10 years old. I had developed early so it wasn’t a surprise that I got my period at a young age. I had just learned about our periods and sanitary items to use right before I got it and already had knowledge from my mom and older sister. During this time, I found out that using tampons was extremely painful for me and it felt like a shooting pain was running through my whole body. I learned that it was an issue in my family, but I didn’t feel like mine was an easy fix.
For years I dealt with this issue. Mostly, I hid from it. I was only going so far in relationships with men since sex was completely out of the question for me. I felt lost, broken and my sexual energy was suppressed.
It wouldn’t be until my early 20s when I found a lump in my breast that I would finally get some answers. Doctors were never concerned about a pap since I never had sex but as I got older, it became more of a pressure to get one. I figured it was time to see an OBGYN to discuss the issue further.
During this time, I saw a well-respected doctor, and the first step was an ultrasound to make sure nothing was “officially” wrong. I remember making the appointment, going into the room and the nurse wanted to stick the wand camera into my vaginal opening. I told her again why I was there so I ended up having to sit in the lobby and drink water until my bladder was full. Just another embarrassment to add to the list!
I met with the doctor and found out that I had band of extra hymeneal tissue. I later came to know that it’s called Septate Hymen and the extra band of tissue runs vertically in the area of the normal hymen. Some people can have sexual intercourse and it easily breaks. I had a more extreme form so it was like a moon shape. This means it would take more to break it. The process would either be through the dilation method or to have surgery. My first thought was surgery since it would be an in and out procedure and wouldn’t take long to heal, but there could be scar tissue. The scar tissue could cause issues down the road. I decided to go with dilation and ordered a set of dilators during the time I was looking for a job with limited insurance coverage. Perfect time to buy them, right?
Well, let’s say the dilators sat in my closet for almost seven years. They seemed way too big and gave me more anxiety about the whole issue. I told myself that someday I’ll have sex, it will be painful for a while, and someday it will be better.
Jump forward to several years later when my doctor moved and I needed to find a new one. After a recommendation, I went to an OBYGN and she was the answer to my prayers. She took the time to sit with me and discuss my issues. She informed me there are pelvic floor therapists who help women with this condition and guide them through the dilation process.
She gave me a referral to a therapist and I had an appointment soon after. I can’t praise my pelvic floor therapist enough. She guided me through the process and I would look forward to my appointments. I found myself working through the pain but also found support along the way to move forward in a positive way.
Of course I had set backs but she was there to guide me, support me, and encourage me through the year-long process. Finally, one day, the breakthrough came. My hymen broke and I was able to use the larger dilator along with vibrational therapy. Through this process, I also learned how to strengthen my pelvic floor and I even taught my therapist yoga techniques that also helped me. In the end, we both learned from each other.
At the end of the long process to recovery, I found myself connecting to what I call my "sacred space". I finally started to work through the shame and share my story with other women. I found that I am not alone and the therapy I did along with yoga was asked about by a lot of women. I learned a lot about menopause and other pelvic conditions through this journey and started to teach my Women’s Health Workshops.
I came from a place of shame, hurt and hating my body to loving myself, learning my limits and that my story needs to be shared. I also found that my IBS was controlled a little more because I had less pressure on my pelvic floor.
I wish I could say in the end that I am completely healed but sex is still uncomfortable. But for me, the fact that I can use tampons without any issues and not have extreme pain is a win for now. I remind myself that this is my journey and only mine to share. That I was given this issue to help women discover their bodies and be a guide to show that you can heal your own body on your own terms and time. You might not be ready now but someday the right people will come along and you will feel the need to take care of yourself, that your life will change, and things will heal and get better if you work at them.
Looking for more information healing your pelvic floor? Check out my current workshop offering or book a FREE 30-minute discovery session with me today!
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I identify as a cisgender woman and my programs for women's health come from my identity and knowledge. My pronouns are she/her/hers.
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Molly Sommerhalder, Owner of Swan in the Lotus Yoga and Wellness, LLC
Swan in the Lotus came to me after years of connection to myself and my Goddess, Saraswati. My blog will provide inspiration to travel with courage on this life journey and provide lessons to find joy, love and self-care!